4 ways to get festive with your flat mates

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The first semester is almost finished, and the Christmas holidays are upon us. Many of you will be returning home to your family and friends for the break and leaving your student accommodation, and flat mates, until you return in the New Year. But before you go, why not have some festive fun with your flat mates to really get you into the spirit of things and end the term on a high!

1. Decorations
Nothing says Christmas has arrived in a student room more than tinsel draped around the doors and sparkly decorations hanging up. You don’t have to spend a fortune, pop to your local pound shop and pick up some decorations to spruce up your living areas. It’ll not only make you feel more festive, but you’ll no doubt have some fun putting up the decorations together.

2. Christmas Dinner
Have one last meal together with your flat mates and friends before you all head your separate ways for the holidays. Get together and agree on what food you’re going to buy – after all, you don’t want to buy a bag of sprouts if no one likes them. The great thing about doing a joint Christmas dinner with your flat mates is that if you all put in money towards the food shop or if each person contributes one or two items, then it won’t cost you a fortune. With Christmas songs playing and everyone helping out in the kitchen, it’s a sure way to get you in the festive spirit!

3. Christmas Jumpers
Whether it’s a meal with your friends in your accommodation, a night out or an afternoon sampling the delights at the Christmas market, there’s always a good excuse to wear a festive themed jumper at this time of year. So, root through your wardrobe and dig out yours – don’t forget to get a group picture with everyone wearing theirs!

4. Secret Santa
Stuck for what to buy all of your friends? Can’t afford to buy something for everyone? Why not do secret Santa? In your group of friends, put everyone’s names in a hat and each pull out a name and you only have to buy a present for that person. Whether it’s £5 or £20, decide amongst yourselves what the budget will be and stick to it. Doing secret Santa means everyone gets a present, but you haven’t got to spend a fortune buying something for everyone.

No matter how you choose to get into the spirit of the season, we would to wish everyone a lovely Christmas and break over the holidays, and a very happy New Year.

If you would like to find out more about our student accommodation at Host Wembley in London, take a look at our website or contact us for more information.

5 tips for staying safe in the dark

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It’s that time of year, summer has been and gone, and winter is fast approaching. Students are thinking about Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas, and the dark nights are starting to draw in.

Undeniably it’s important to stay safe and be cautious at all times of the year, but it’s particularly true this time of year as the mornings stay darker for longer and the afternoons and evenings become darker much sooner. So, below are a few top tips on staying safe.

1. Stick together
Whether you’re leaving university late, going to a friend’s house or are heading home after a night out, avoid walking by yourself. Try to walk with others that you know; safety in numbers is key when it comes to walking in the dark.

2. Know your route
If you have to walk in the dark, especially if you’re on your own, be sure to know where you’re going. Stick to well used main roads and pedestrian areas, and ones that are well lit. And even if you know a short cut, don’t stray from the beaten path and avoid cutting through remote alleyways, parks, wasteland and canal towpaths.

3. Plan ahead
If you’re out for the night and know you need to get home at the end of the night, then be sure to plan ahead. Arrange with a friend or family member to pick you up or book a taxi. If you’re planning on getting a taxi, make sure you keep money aside to pay the fare and be sure to use a licensed taxi firm; never get in an unmarked taxi.

4. Stay in touch
Make sure someone knows where you’re going and what time they can expect you back. If you have to walk, or if you’re getting in a taxi, let someone know when you’re setting off, and then get back in touch with them when you’ve arrived at your destination. That way, they should know if something is wrong if you fail to contact them as expected. And remember, when going out for the night to have a fully charged phone.

5. Be alert
If you do have to walk alone in the dark, avoid things such as listening to music or talking on the phone for too long. It’s important to be fully alert and aware of your surroundings, without any distractions. It’s also a good idea to keep any valuables such as phones, headphones, money, keys etc hidden, as they will draw attention to you.

If you’re new to a city or town and aren’t sure of the safest routes back to your accommodation, or you need the number of a local taxi firm, speak to your Host team and they’ll be happy to help.

If you would like to find out more about our student accommodation at Host Wembley in London, take a look at our website or contact us for more information.

10 tips for meeting new people in your student accommodation

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Starting university is an exciting time for many students, but it can also be quite daunting too. It may be your first time away from home, in a new city and you’re living in a place where you don’t yet no anybody. But if you are feeling anxious or worried about meeting new people, now is the perfect time to make new friends and expand your social network through university, your accommodation and within the local community; so embrace it! Remember when it comes to starting university, everyone is in the same boat as you. And to help get you started, we’ve pulled together some top tips for meeting new people in your accommodation…

10 top tips to help you meet new people at uni - Host

If you’re interested in finding out more about our student accommodation or living with us here at Host Wembley in London, drop us an email at wembley@host-students.com, call us on +44(0)20 3475 5952 or pop in and see us and we’ll be happy to help.

3 tips to beat Results Day stress

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For a lot of you out there this is a very stressful time because A Level Result’s Day is just around the corner. You’re probably going through every possible scenario in your head, over and over again – and who can blame you! This is something that will affect your future in every possible way, and that’s why this month we’ve put together 3 top tips to help you through this stressful time.

1. Have the right attitude
What’s done is done, and what needs to happen will happen. You have worked hard and there’s nothing more you can do at this point to change your results. Now it’s just time to be confident and understand that if this is the path that you are supposed to be on then you’ve got this in the pocket.

If by any chance you don’t receive the results that you were expecting, then it’s a great way to learn and grow from the experience. Life didn’t go your way. Now what? Take a gap year? Resit your exams? Apply through Clearing? There’s so many options out there, but it’s your attitude towards these “curve balls” that life throws at you that will determine your success in the future. If you really want it and if it’s meant for you it will eventually happen.

2. Get all your ducks in a row…
Results day will be busy, so it’s important you have everything ready beforehand. You’ll be tracking your results on UCAS, securing university places, confirming accommodation and probably speaking to a lot of people. Have things such as usernames or user IDs, login details and reference numbers handy and ensure all of your contact information is up to date – it will make the process of speaking to people on results day a lot quicker and easier.

If you’re not available on results day, and someone else will be taking care of things for you, it’s worth contacting universities or accommodation providers such as Host prior to results day to nominate a person to speak about things on your behalf. Due to new GDPR regulations in the UK, staff might not be able to speak to anyone else about your application details unless there is prior consent.

3. Breathe!
The main purpose of breathing is to expel carbon dioxide and absorb oxygen with every single movement that our lungs make. The diaphragm is the most important muscle that allows us to breathe in and out.

A person’s breathing changes if they are under stress or if they are suffering from any kind of anxiety. If you are going through a similar situation you are probably taking small and shallow breaths and you are not using your diaphragm. If you are not breathing properly the repercussions can range from headaches, irritability and more stress! So just take a breather and relax! It will be alright. We promise.

If you’re starting university in London and are looking for student accommodation, why not stay with us in Wembley? View our rooms or contact us on +44(0) 20 3475 5952 or at wembley@host-students.com for more information.

Looking after yourself at university

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If you’re awaiting results and getting ready to depart for university, you’re probably excited about what the next few months have in store for you. The transition to university and student life can bring lots of opportunities, which can be easy for some, but it can be tougher for others.

Some students may experience issues such as academic stress, homesickness, drug and alcohol misuse or eating difficulties. Problems at university can lead to your health (physical or mental health) deteriorating.

However, there are many things you can do to help improve your health and wellbeing – ensuring you make the most of your time as a student.

1. Be social
Socialise with others and grow your friendship network. Chat with classmates, introduce yourself to fellow residents at your accommodation, join clubs and societies, get involved with any events at your university/college, accommodation or student’s union, volunteer in the community and embrace any work opportunities.

2. Communicate
Speak with your family and friends from home regularly. Let them know how you’re getting on, share your experiences and know that everything is ok with them too.

3. Sleep
Get a good night’s sleep to feel refreshed and recharged – you’ll wake up with a more positive attitude ready to take on the day.

4. Exercise
Regular exercise will not only maintain your physical health, but also your mental health. You’ll see an immediate boost in your overall mood; it’s a great way to clear your head and relieve any stress you may have.

5. Eat well
Maintain a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients, and avoid eating too much junk and convenience foods as they’ll will make you feel lethargic.

6. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, particularly if you are drinking alcohol. If you don’t drink enough water you’ll become dehydrated which can cause headaches and make you feel tired and dizzy.

If you do experience problems, no matter how big or small they may be, you should always speak to someone and seek advice. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a doctor, a support group, your university’s welfare department or a member of the Host team, they will be able to offer support, help and guidance.

Which accommodation should you choose?

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It’s the time of the year when A-level exams are finishing, the mad rush of getting ready for university begins and searching for accommodation is well underway. It can be a stressful time, but the decisions you make can be the most important of your life to date. Some students can’t wait to leave home, and some find the thought of leaving home rather nerve racking. But no matter how you’re feeling, you probably all have a few questions about starting university and finding the right student accommodation; will I need accommodation? Where do I start my search? What is private accommodation? What’s provided in halls?… and you continue to think these questions over and over again.

So, to help you make the right accommodation choices, we’ve pulled together a short list of things to consider if you’re getting ready to go to university.

Where is your university?
By now, you should know which university you will be hoping to study at in September – providing you gain the required results. So, with this in mind, think about where that university is located and how accessible it is to you from your current home. Is it close enough to travel to on a daily basis? Or will you need to relocate to study in that city? Even if it is close enough to travel to, perhaps you still want to move out so you can gain the full university / student life experience.

Living at home
It’s not required for you to move out and live away from home for university. If it’s more convenient and cost effective for you to live at home whilst at university, then that’s a great option. Not only that, but whether it’s your parents, siblings, grandparents or even the family pet, you’ll have the support of your family at home whilst you work hard towards graduating. They will be so pleased with your accomplishments, and they’ll be there for you throughout the highs and lows of university life. And with living in the comfort and quietness of your own home and having your family around you, what more do you need to get through an eventful 3 years of university?

Living in university accommodation
If you have decided to move away and live in university accommodation, what a lovely experience that will be too. University residences are lively and busy environments with students from all different backgrounds living together. You’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and make friends with students in your accommodation and around the campus. You’ll be able to join in with on-site events, contribute to organising future events, and widen your social network – it can be an amazing experience.

Living in private accommodation
As well as university halls of residence, as a first-year student you can also live in private student accommodation – like the type offered by ourselves here at Host Wembley. It may be a personal preference to opt for private student accommodation over university accommodation (due to factors such as location, on-site facilities, new and modern accommodation etc.), it could be that your university has an agreement with a private accommodation provider and therefore that accommodation is a preferred choice for students, or it may be that university halls are full and the only option left is private accommodation. But regardless of the reason why you live with us here at Host, you can enjoy hassle-free, all-inclusive student living.

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London for this September, why not stay with us in Wembley? View our rooms or contact us on +44(0) 20 3475 5952 or at wembley@host-students.com for more information.

Top post-exam holiday destinations

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You’ve probably been inundated with revision tips and how to get through your exams and achieve your desired results. So, rather than throw even more tips at you, what about something to look forward to when your exams are finished?

After a busy semester and all that hard work, you’ll likely be in need of a break, and what better way to relax than with a holiday. Below are 5 beautiful destinations well worth a visit when your exams are finished.

1. Croatia

Panoramic view on the beautiful beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Set your sites on the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia; which in the extreme south of Croatia is otherwise called the Pearl of the Adriatic. There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful city. Explore places such as the Old Town and Ancient City Walls, be amazed with breath-taking views from cable cars, lounge on the sandy beaches or see the city with a biking adventure. Then when it’s time to refuel, visit the local restaurants to taste some of Croatia’s finest cuisine. And if all else fails, you can immerse yourself in the city’s nightlife and go clubbing all night and sleep all day!

2. Thailand

James Bond island near Phuket in Thailand.

A destination slightly further afield, but the rainforested, mountainous island of Phuket in Thailand is definitely worth visiting if you’re after a fantastic place to explore.

Besides relaxing on the fine white sandy beaches, there are many activities to enjoy throughout your visit. From boat tours to Nga Bay where you can go kayaking, or taking a trip to the Similian Islands to go snorkelling, to speed boat tours to Phi Phi and Khai Islands. But if you prefer dry land, why not go and see the beautiful elephants in Phang Nga? No matter your preference, there’s so much to see and do in Thailand, so if you’re up for a big adventure go, go, go!

3. Vietnam

rice fields vietnam

If you love culture and history, and you’re up for travelling the distance, a trip to Vietnam certainly won’t disappoint.

Visit the market of Ben Thanh, see the Notre Dame Cathedral and war remnants museum in Ho Chi Mih City, and visit the numerous heritage sites around Vietnam. A trip to the capital Hanoi is a must, where the old and new Asia combine to bring a fusion of modern and medieval times. The diverse scenery of Vietnam is like no other, from limestone hills and paddy fields, to endless miles of coastline for when you’re ready to relax. So, don’t be shy go and expand your travel portfolio!

4. Devon

South west coast path to Woolacombe Devon England UK in summer with blue sky

Taking a holiday doesn’t mean you have to jump on a plane and leave the country; there are some wonderful places to visit right here in the UK.

And when the sun’s shining, there’s no better place to visit than Devon in the South of England. With coastal paths stretching for miles – all the way from Minehead to Dorset, you can explore the beautiful coastal scenery with dramatic cliffs, rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, hidden coves and much more.

Other attractions in Devon range from the Royal Albert Museum and Quince Honey Farm, to the beautiful Becky falls. Alternatively, have a day out at the zoo or visit some of the liveliest theme parks, or simply take in the fresh sea air and chill out on the beach with an ice-cream – just be sure to eat it before it melts!

5. Ibiza

Dj Set At The Beach Party.

Now, Ibiza is the holiday many of you have probably been waiting for; the holiday of holidays, and the clubbers extravaganza! If you’re all about the night life, there are masses of clubs to suite all tastes. Everything is cheaper and the resorts are all in close vicinity. And after a long night of dancing and partying, recover with a lazy afternoon poolside, try out some of the water sports at the beach, or continue the party with a boat party!

So, once your exams are finished, you can look forward to packing your bags and travelling to one of these top destinations. From sightseeing and exploring, to sunbathing and partying, there’s something for everyone.

A succulent Sunday roast recipe

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As you all know Easter is fast approaching. And with less than a week to go, we thought that we’d share with you a recipe for a succulent roast dinner that can be enjoyed on Easter Sunday; Hay-baked Leg of lamb. So, gather your ingredients, follow the preparation guidelines and get cooking to enjoy a tasty roast this weekend.

hay-baked-stuffed-leg-of-lamb
Image source: BBC Good Food

Ingredients
Before you start licking your lips in anticipation of the feast ahead, you’ll need to have all your ingredients ready to go.

  • 250g Kale
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
  • 4 Anchovies, finely chopped
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • 70g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1½ Kg leg of lamb, part tunnel-boned, shank still attached (you can ask butcher to do this for you)
  • 2 bunches of fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 100g hay, toasted (for 8-10 minutes at gas mark 3/ 160C/ 140C for fan assisted ovens)
  • 500ml lamb/chicken stock cube
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • Butchers string to tie the lamb together.

And what roast dinner would be complete without some roast potatoes and fresh vegetables? So, whether it’s carrots and green beans, or broccoli and spring greens, don’t forget to load your basket with your favourite veggies and potatoes. If you’re not a lamb fan, try the recipe with chicken instead!

Preparing the stuffing

  • Boil the kale in a pan on the stove until wilted.
  • Transfer the kale directly into iced water to refresh.
  • Drain all excess water from the kale, then roughly chop.
  • Add the chopped kale into a mixing bowl and stir with the breadcrumbs, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest and season with black pepper.
  • Once mixed, pack the stuffing into the lamb’s cavity and tie with string – making sure it is secure so it doesn’t fall apart whilst cooking.

Cooking Instructions

  • Heat oven to Gas Mark 5/ 190C or 170C for fan assisted ovens
  • Mix the hay with the rosemary and thyme, and spread in a deep roasting tin.
  • Dissolve 1 stock cube in 500ml of boiling water then poor over the hay.
  • Place your stuffed lamb on top of the hay, sprinkle some salt on top and drizzle 2 table spoons of olive oil over your lamb.

Cooking times will vary depending how you like your lamb to be cooked, see suggested cooking times below:

  • Well done – 1 hour 40 minutes in the oven
  • Medium to well – 1 hour 30 minutes in the oven
  • Rare to Medium – 1 hour 20 minutes in the oven

Once cooked to your desired taste, remove the lamb from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving. Then, dig-in and enjoy your seasonal hay-baked stuffed leg of lamb!

For more tasty Easter recipes, see here

4 cities to escape to this Easter

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Easter is nearly upon us which can only mean one thing for students – a well-deserved break from university! So, what have you got planned for the holidays? You might be finishing off assignments, starting revision or heading home to catch up with family. But if you’ve got a few days spare, why not jump on a plane and explore a European city for a few days? Below are just a handful of the destinations you can easily visit from the UK.

Barcelona
Located in Spain, Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular cities for visitors. Immerse yourself in a city with endless culture and a landscape packed with beautiful architecture and design. And with a beach in the city too, you can soak up some spring sunshine while taking in the fresh sea air too. You’ll find the streets lined with bars, restaurants and entertainers – perfect for relaxing and enjoying a cocktail or two after a busy day of sightseeing.

Rome  
Italy’s capital, Rome, is a city that boasts many layers of history. The ancient ruins, extraordinary monuments and cobbled lanes make it a getaway with lots to see and explore including the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Vatican City. And of course, a trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without sampling some local Italian food – it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re a big fan of pizza!

Dubrovnik
An increasingly popular tourist destination, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most up-market destination. A city famous for its spectacular walls dating back to the 9th century, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a stroll and admire the shimmer of the Adriatic Sea and Dubrovnik’s Old Town – which, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you may recognise as it’s been a popular filming location for the series. And as spring and summer approach, the temperature in Croatia increases, meaning you can enjoy some al fresco dining too.

Prague
Nicknamed ‘The City of a Hundred Spires’ – because of the number of towers and spires which embellish the buildings throughout the city, Prague has been considered one of Europe’s most interesting cities. The Vltava River runs through the city, and picturesque bridges – including the iconic Charles Bridge, connect the city. As well as popular tourist attractions such as St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle and Old Town Square, sampling some of Prague’s beer is a must.

Looking for student accommodation in London? Why not stay with us at our student accommodation in Wembley? View our rooms or contact us on +44(0) 20 3475 5952 or at wembley@host-students.com for more information.

3 simple and healthy pancake recipes

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Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or as a small snack in between lectures, pancakes are quick and easy to make and taste great too. While pancakes smothered in chocolate spread, topped with ice cream and sprinkled in sugar aren’t the healthiest option, there are some alternative pancake recipes which are much healthier for you. And with Pancake Day next week, there’s never been a better time to get out your frying pan and put your pancake flipping skills to the test.

Banana pancakes
With only 3 ingredients in this recipe, these pancakes are quick and easy to make.  They’re also gluten-free, low-calorie and definitely guilt-free!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ large bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Method:

  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk together with the baking powder.
  2. In another bowl, add in the bananas and mash them with a fork. But not too much – ensure there are still chunks of bananas.
  3. Add the egg mixture with the mashed bananas and stir to combine.
  4. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of batter to a frying pan for each pancake and cook over a medium heat, flipping it over and cooking on both sides until golden brown. Serve hot and with your choice of toppings (if any).

Chocolate protein pancakes
Get your chocolate fix without reaching for the jar of chocolate spread with these delicious choc-tastic pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ scoop chocolate protein powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of batter to a frying pan for each pancake and cook over a medium heat, flipping it over and cooking on both sides until brown. Serve hot and with your choice of toppings (if any).

Sweet potato pancakes
If you’re more of a savoury person, combine sweet potato with savoury cottage cheese, for a hearty and protein packed breakfast or snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup oats
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Add ¼ of batter to a frying pan for each pancake and cook over a medium heat, flipping it over and cooking on both sides until golden brown. Serve hot and with your choice of toppings (if any).
  3. Repeat until all batter has been used.